The Team

Here’s this year’s team: a total of seven riders, including three newcomers and four with ten previous Le Jour de France rides under their collective belts.

While everyone’s going to be trying to complete as many ascents as possible, they’re all aiming for one of the Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux awards along the way: the three-climb Cinglé, the four-climb Galérien (the only one to include the gravelled Route Forestière) or the slightly insane six-climb Bicinglette.

Carl

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A first time on Le Jour de France for Carl, but he’s going in at the deep end and aiming for the Bicinglette.

It’s been a while since I did any even vaguely silly endurance events, so hopefully this will put it right… I’ve never been particularly fast at anything, but found that I have a stubbornness and optimism that allows me to successfully suffer through long endurance events and convince myself that I’ve enjoyed them. I used to race a few adventure races and ultra-distance triathlons/duathlons, but recently road racing and struggling with baby twins has been more than enough to satisfy my need for exercise and sleepless nights. Hopefully I’ve still got the ability to suffer with a smile, otherwise its going to be a very, very long day!

Dave

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Dave’s also a Le Jour de France rookie, but he comes armed with a pedigree that means he too is aiming for the Bicinglette.

I’ve ridden bicycles for hours on end. I’ve ridden bicycles up really big hills. I’ve ridden in 30 degree heat and I’ve ridden in sub-zero temperatures while getting blasted by supersonic winds. I’ve never combined all of these things into one ride before, though. (Cue looming shot of Ventoux…) I’m hoping all the climbing I’ve done in the past will help in tackling the steep slopes of the mountain. I’m hoping all the pre-dawn starts and post-sunset finishes of the past will stand me in good stead for being out there well before the madding lycra crowds fill the roads and long after the last tourist has retired to their wine. I’m hoping, but it’s no forgone conclusion. This mountain’s reputation is fearsome and the figures involved in attaining the Bicinglette can bring a twinge to even the most hardened of thighs. Everest in a day. Nearly 200 miles. And if I do that, if I manage it, carry on and do some more. Yikes.

Dean

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Dean has ridden Le Jour de France once before, in 2011 (perhaps portentously, he was pretty handy on the uphill bits). He’s going for the Galérien.

I’ve ridden up Mont Ventoux once before and it was hell. Despite being clear and beautiful at the foot of the mountain, above Chalet Reynard there was zero visibility, sideways rain and vicious winds. I passed a rider lying on the road in a vain attempt to shelter from the conditions by hiding behind his bike. Shivering on the descent almost had me shaking myself onto the tarmac and a good third of the warm-me-up hot chocolate was uncontrollably thrown out of its cup. I’m under no illusions that this will be tough. I have a few demons to lay to rest under those bleached rocks.

James

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Like Dean, James rode the 2011 Le Jour de France, and is back for more this year, also aiming for the Galérien.

Having never seen in person—let-alone ridden up—Ventoux, I am entirely relying on an “ignorance is bliss” approach to this challenge. I’ve been riding for years and know fairly well the effects that long distance, height gain and heat have on my body and, without being graphic, it’s generally unpleasant. As such, I’m quite often the first person to suggest that stopping for a cold beer or taking a shorter route would be the most sensible option. After passing over the past three Le Jour de France events as they just looked far too hard, I’ve decided it’s about time to give some more suffering a go and experience first hand just how difficult riding up Le Géant really is. Hopefully I’ll be spurred on to hurt myself a lot more for a very good cause.

Mike

mike

This year will be Mike’s third Le Jour de France on the trot, making him the second daftest person here. He’s aiming for the Galérien.

I’ve done a number of fairly stupid things on bicycles. 24 hour MTB races, a singlespeed century, 24 hour track bike relays, some mad thing in Wales that involved 120 miles and sleeping in a sack… And so on. Le Jour de France usually manages to take the entire packet of biscuits, though. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything remotely as hard as the 300 miler in 2013. 30 hours of chamois time is not something I’m in a hurry to repeat. Fortunately, 2015 has a time limit – we have to be pretty much done by midnight. Unfortunately, it involves a lot of climbing. I’ve signed up for the Galérien, which is the three road ascents of Ventoux plus an off-road climb. Surprisingly few people have done this, and I fully expect to discover why. As has become traditional, I’m hopelessly ill-prepared, having spent all year training to be a teacher rather than riding my bike up mountains (or even hills). So I’ll be relying on taking it steady, but bloody-mindedly. It’s always worked in the past…

Nigel

nigel

This is Nigel’s first Le Jour de France ride, although he rode out with us on the first stretch of the 2014 event. His target is the Galérien.

The crushing weight of peer pressure… I was only going to register for the Cinglé but I now feel obliged. A diet of Ex-Lax and cabbage soup awaits.

Stewart (aka Bez)

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Bez organises the event every year and is the only person dumb enough to have done them all. He’s the only one aiming for the (relatively) low-hanging fruit of the Cinglé.

I don’t know why I’m doing this. It’s just a massive pile of climbing. I don’t really like climbing. I have no idea what was going on in my head when I thought, “yeah, let’s do a massive pile of climbing”. I don’t think I was even drunk at the time. This was supposed to be my 40th birthday treat and it’s just a massive pile of climbing. What sort of a birthday treat is that? A bloody stupid one.